Untruth In Advertising

Untruth In Advertising

Let’s be honest. We’ve all come to expect a little exaggeration and hyperbole from advertising – everyone who drinks beer is young and beautiful and a Big Mac is perfectly stacked with crisp lettuce and a fluffy bun. We accept that when we order that McDonald’s signature sandwich it will be squished down to half the size and the lettuce will be anything but crisp. Yet we still expect it to consist of two all-beef-patties-special sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions on a sesame bun. We don’t seem to mind some embellishment, but we draw the line at out-and-out lies.

So the question becomes – where is that line? I recently saw a viral video demonstrating the picture quality of LG’s new IPS monitor. The video was an elaborate prank showing technicians install IPS monitors on the floor of an elevator. As unsuspecting riders got on, the monitors showed the floor falling away, revealing the plunging deepth of the elevator shaft below. The poor prankees grabbed onto the handrails and fled to the safety of the corners. The tag at the end was, “So real, it’s scary.”

Great idea. Great ad. At least, that’s what I thought at first. Then I discovered I had been duped. Turns out, the floor was actually a green screen and the terrified elevator riders were actors. (Click here to see the hoax exposed.) So did they cross the line? Yes – and not just because they faked everything. They crossed the line because the part they faked was their product benefit! Yet, according to many of the message boards and blogs I’ve read, most people apparently don’t care. In fact, the spot’s fakeness has started a bigger conversation than simple picture quality and made the video that much more successful in terms of number of views.

And that got me thinking. Maybe the average consumer doesn’t care about truth in advertising for categories like electronics, fashion and alcohol. For them, maybe coolness outweighs substance. But what about the sustainability category? Could a solar company create a fake demonstration that showed one solar panel lighting a whole city block? Could an organic farm shoot a video where actors pick, clean and package their produce when in reality machines do it all? Do consumers seeking sustainable products hold companies to a higher standard? We think the answer is yes and that if the LG ad had been touting environmental benefits vs. a more realistic picture, the backlash would have been overwhelmingly negative.  I’d love to hear what you think.

About the Author

Brian Kelley

Brian is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.